Following his dreams…

Following his dreams…

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ash (a young man aged 22 from Iran), who came to Action Foundation to further improve his English language and to access our Action Letting in Sunderland. Little did he know then that doors were about to open for him, not only literally but also metaphorically… to a promising and exciting future ahead.  We started our conversation by looking to the future…Ash has been offered a place to study for a Masters’ in Film Directing at the very prestigious University of the Arts in London!

Since the age of 12 and whilst at school in Iran, Ash dreamt of a career in the film industry and has a great passion for the history of cinema and film noir. He has very supportive parents and early advice from both his mother and father have given him great strength and determination to follow his dream.
His mum, who studied Psychology and is very open minded, said “If you have a glass of water, don’t see the empty spaces, see the water inside”. His dad’s advice was: “You need to do what brings you joy and to follow your dreams so that when I am no longer here, you will continue to be happy.”

He didn’t expect to receive such a warm welcome when he arrived in the North East, but he found everyone very welcoming in Sunderland and particularly when he started volunteering at FODI (Friends of the Drop-in Sunderland).

Having a good understanding of the English language and volunteering opened many doors for Ash and has played a huge part in developing his many friendships. He met a radio producer and was introduced to Spark Radio, a full-time community radio station at Sunderland University run by volunteers and now regularly presents on their weekly live show which goes out on Tuesdays 11-12noon. To learn about broadcasting, he firstly ‘shadowed’ other presenters, produced a short clip and then went ‘live on air’!

He has formed long lasting friendships with volunteers and their families that he has met through FODI and later at Action Language and Action Letting where the owner of his accommodation has connected him with people in London and accommodation ready for the start of his Masters’.
In forming friendships, it is very important to respect the culture you are living in and to be able to say sorry if you think you may have offended someone, which can be hard to know if you don’t understand the different cultureexplained Ash.

Ash now has friends from many different countries and cultures, some of whom have now moved to different cities in the UK, but they will continue to keep in touch and meet up.

When Ash heard about Action Language he was keen to get involved in classes to further improve his already very good English.  He found everyone so friendly and welcoming and was also introduced to Action Housing. This enabled Ash to move into our supported housing with help from Jen, one of our support workers, and for the past six months he has been happily sharing a flat with 3 others (very tidy people) in Sunderland, overlooking the river.
He is very grateful for the support given through Action Housing which means not having to worry about practical things to do with the accommodation and he knows that he can always ask Jen for advice on things or where to go for any extra support.

At Action Language Sue helped me so much in practising for my IELTS exam and gave me preparation exercises. It was hard work, but I passed and achieved the points I needed for my university applicationssaid Ash.   He applied to 5 universities with 4 all happy to consider his past qualifications and background in production.  Entry to the University of the Arts in London is an arduous process with a 3-stage interview process.  In the final stage, Ash was asked to direct a script scene from the film ‘In Bruges’ directing two professional actors and in front of the course leaders!

Ash said:It was a golden time – I knew I needed to be the best version of myself”.  He was offered one of only 7 places! “I called my family by internet in the middle of the night to tell them the news! My mum was crying, and it was the happiest moment of my life so far in the UK. My family have sacrificed a lot for me to follow my dreams.

When Ash arrived in the UK it was not what he expected, but it has proved to be a very friendly and welcoming country and where he is very happy to be. On leaving Iran, it was the first time that he had lived alone, but his experiences have made him a stronger person.  He will miss the North East when he moves down to London, particularly all the kind people he has met, but also the local accents, the history of the area, the football banter and Sunderland. We will miss Ash too and we wish him all the best as he follows his dreams and we look forward to hearing more about his exciting future ahead.

What an Impact!

What an Impact!

Over the past year we have helped more people across a wider geographic area with the support of more volunteers than ever before!

We have been able to support 1413 refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants through our housing and language projects – an increase of 27% on the previous year.

Read more about the impact Action Foundation has made, in our 2018 report. Below you will find our report in two formats, a page turning format and a pdf:

Page Turning Format: http://bit.ly/AFImpactReport2018 

PDF Format: ActionFoundation-Report_2018

Volunteering Opportunities: Resident Support Programme

Volunteering Opportunities: Resident Support Programme

 

Resident Support Programme: Next month Action Foundation is launching the Resident Support Program. This will consist of a package of workshops and training session which will expand the support and advice already provided by our dedicated team of Support Workers to the vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees we house. We are developing the programme in consultation with residents in order to ensure that it is tailored to meet individual circumstances, experiences and interests as well as addressing recurring challenges people face on the journey from destitution towards creating independent and fulfilling lives here in the North East of England. The Resident Support Programme will provide information, advice and opportunities in the following 3 broad areas:

  • Life in the UK: Developing life skills, promoting independent living and providing opportunities to connect with the community
  • Employment: Becoming more employable through developing skills and accessing education, training and work experience opportunities
  • Housing: Helping residents to prepare for the realities of sustaining independent tenancies after moving-on from supported accommodation.
Volunteer Opportunities: Recruiting enthusiastic, committed volunteers will be essential to making the Resident Support Programme a success, and we are eager to hear from anyone who wants to get involved in the project.
Find out more about our volunteer positions on our website…
We are also recruiting the following volunteer positions:
  • Working with people where English is not their first language
  • Work with people who are experiencing social exclusion
  • Teaching, training or mentoring
  • Independent Living/Life Skills
  • Speakers of Arabic, Amharic, Farsi, Tigrinya, Kurdish or French

We are planning to develop a rolling program of workshops and sessions and would like to enlist the support of volunteers who are able to make an advanced commitment to delivering sessions on a regular basis.

Volunteer Program Support: To provide project and administrative support to the Resident Support Program. The role will be based at the Action Foundation Office in Newcastle and will suit someone who is comfortable using Microsoft Word and Excel and is able make a regular weekly commitment.
Volunteer Buddies: To accompany and support residents to take part in volunteer opportunities or social activities until they are confident enough to do so on their own. The role will require some travel across Tyne & Wear and Teesside and would suit a person who can be available for a few hours per week at different times.

All volunteers will be provided with a full project induction, specific training related to their volunteer role and on-going support. Getting in touch. If you would like to discuss any aspect of the project in more detail please contact: Jes Balmer, Resident Support Trainer, Action Foundation & Open Door North East
0191 231 3113 Jesbalmer@actionfoundation.org.uk

Linguacuisine: Recipes for language success!

Linguacuisine: Recipes for language success!

Below are details of an exciting event we are taking part in – please spread the word!

For the past two years, Action Foundation has been working with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) and three universities on Linguacuisine, an Erasmus+ project to create an app promoting language learning through cooking. Our language learners have co-designed the website and created recipes in a variety of languages (including English!), which can then be used to aid learning as well as create delicious meals!

We will launch the app at Blackfriars in Newcastle on Tuesday 18 September, and would like to share this with as many people as possible. There will be live cooking and tasting of the recipes, as well as more information on how to contribute your own recipes and opportunities to meet others with shared interests. The event is free and anyone can register at the Eventbrite page below, and you can find out more about the project at https://linguacuisine.com/

We hope we will see you there and please do pass this on to other groups or language learners who may be interested.

Action Language Enrolment Days for September 2018

Action Language Enrolment Days for September 2018

If you can’t have English classes at college, you can come to Action Language!

We deliver English classes for adults (18+) of all abilities.  Enrolment in Newcastle for classes in September is at The CastleGate, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm on:

Wednesday 29 August
Thursday 30 August
Friday 31 August
Monday 3 September
Tuesday 4 September

Please come to do a short test and bring your ID (passport, card or papers are fine!). We look forward to welcoming you!

For information can be found on our ‘Contact Us’ page

Ela is on a mission to encourage volunteering and embrace change in Poland

Ela is on a mission to encourage volunteering and embrace change in Poland

Elzbieta Sarapata (Ela) is from a mountain village called Piechowice in Poland, and is a qualified teacher. Through her church and a passion for helping others, Ela met with one of our Action Language teachers, Ruth Colclough, whilst volunteering in France back in 1990, and they formed a long-lasting friendship.  It is this friendship that has led Ela on a journey of discovery that embraces the English language, volunteering, humanity and ultimately a visit to Action Language this summer.

For the past 9 years Ela has been teaching private one-to-one English lessons in Poland to pupils aged between 7-18 years. As a teacher, Ela is passionate about making her lessons relevant and engaging and achieves this by applying critical thinking whilst delivering the lessons in the English language. With Ruth’s lesson ideas and her support in sending over English newspapers, Ela encouraged her students to embrace very relevant and topical global issues, for example single use plastics, whilst at the same time helping the students to improve their command of the English language. Ela was delighted when the opportunity arose to volunteer for a week with Action Language this summer, here in Newcastle upon Tyne, and she was keen to increase her understanding of the issues facing asylum seekers and refugees and how this works in the UK. Ela explained “I hope to use the knowledge to better understand why my country is more fearful and less welcoming to these people. I would also like to encourage more volunteering in Poland by sharing my positive experiences with others”. During her volunteering week at Action Language Ela supported about 10 or 11 different classes; each one offering different teaching styles and levels of student ability, whilst supported by volunteer teaching assistants.

“I was made to feel so welcome by everyone at Action Language and really felt part of the groups from day one. Everyone was very respectful and kind and the classes so enjoyable. I met learners from around the world including Sudan and Eritrea and their journeys have inspired me to look further into the conflicts that these countries are enduring to understand more” Ela added.

 

Providing opportunities to help overcome exclusion

Providing opportunities to help overcome exclusion

As part of our most recent ESOL for Work course, we included (as usual!) a session on volunteering, as a way of gaining experience and enhancing one’s CV. Surrounded as we are at the moment by the Great Exhibition of the North, students were directed towards volunteering there. Two did so, Aleksandra and Lin. Aleksandra volunteered with the Concordia Festival, helping as primary school choirs moved around different venues in Newcastle singing in each place. Here’s her feedback:

“Hi Ruth, I just wanted to thank you for this opportunity for Concordia Festival! It was such a nice experience because children were singing so beautifully!!!”, and Lin? – well, let him tell you himself! “Hello Ruth. Thank you for the great information of Great Exhibition. I have been a volunteer now and attended training sessions as many as I can including First Aid course yesterday. In addition, I have attended the cycling shift of Sound Journey for Newcastle. All of those are very helpful to me. Thank you very much.”

As well as hoping to support our clients to take advantage of new opportunities, we also want to help them with progression, and volunteering is a great way to progress from our ESOL for Work course, and hopefully one day, on to paid work too!

You can find out more about the Great Exhibition of the North and their volunteering opportunities at https://getnorth2018.com/get-involved/volunteers/ 

Meet Ella our Action Hosting & Action Language Volunteer

Meet Ella our Action Hosting & Action Language Volunteer

Ella joined us in the summer as both a Volunteer Fundraiser with Action Hosting and a Teaching Assistant with Action Language.

Ella explained: “I am a second year Edinburgh university student who was lucky enough to have the opportunity to volunteer with Action Foundation, working with both action language and action hosting. I am an active member of a few university societies that support refugee rights and was very keen to complete some sort of work experience within a refugee charity. When I began researching refugee charities to get involved in I was particularly drawn to action foundation because of it’s focus on overcoming exclusion through providing skills which enable community integration, through its provision of English lessons and also through the hosting scheme; which I thought was so important in ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers have a positive experience and are able to give back and feel at home living in England.  Prior to my volunteering I had never dwelled on the importance of speaking English, because it’s something that comes so naturally to me, but the work Action Language do in providing free English lessons is so essential in making every aspect of the student’s lives easier and more accessible. I was initially a little nervous entering into language classes having had no experience teaching and not being particularly patient or good at explaining things, which I considered pretty essential teacher qualities, however the other volunteers and the teacher were so helpful and my fears were all incorrect. I really enjoyed the time I spent volunteering within the language school and was struck by the warmth of the students and volunteers and also enjoyed being involved in the process of learning English and the lifechanging effect it could have on the lives of the students. Through the time I spent within the language school it made me realise that for the students the lessons offered not only a way to learn English but also a way for people, who could easily become isolated, to meet friendly faces and get to know a network of other students in similar positions, and it was a pleasure to temporarily be part of the little community of students and volunteers of Action Language.”

“As well as my involvement with Action Language I had the opportunity to work with Action Hosting and came to better understand the depressing reality of what the fate for many rejected asylum seekers could be. However, I also got to see the life-changing work Action Hosting and the volunteer hosts do which through the simple idea of matching up hosts with spare rooms transforms the lives of both the asylum seekers who stay as guests and also in many ways the hosts as well. My personal project within the action Hosting department involved brainstorming ways to spread the word about action Hosting and attempting to find new hosts, this was great to be part of because it gave me a sense of autonomy and also hopefully will generate a new wave of hosts. My time at Action Foundation was extremely rewarding, both in terms of providing an understanding of the daily running’s of a charity and how a little bit of time from volunteers in English classes or through offering up a spare room it can completely transform the lives of asylum seekers and refugees” Ella added.

Thank you Ella for all your hard work and great company!

 

MEET OUR 3 LEGGED TWINS! – GREAT NORTH RUN 2018!

MEET OUR 3 LEGGED TWINS! – GREAT NORTH RUN 2018!

The Great North Run takes place on 9 September and this year we have 14 fantastic runners representing Action Foundation, all raising money to support our projects helping vulnerable refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants in Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland!  If you would like to help them to reach their fundraising targets please go to our Virgin Money Giving page.

Runners’ Stories: Time to meet Jamie and Dom, our 3-legged Twins!

“Me and my twin brother, Dom, have chosen to run the Great North Run, three-legged. Although we haven’t been involved with Action Foundation directly, we wanted to contribute to the amazing work they do supporting refugees and asylum seekers living in the North-East. The opportunities Action Foundation provides such as offering accommodation and English language courses seem to make an invaluable impact on the lives of vulnerable migrants who have chosen to start a new life in the UK.

We have been training both three-legged and two/four-legged. When training separately, we have been doing regular 10k runs and a couple of shorter ones throughout the week. We will be doing a longer distance half-marathon style soon. For the 3-legged runs, unsurprisingly, it’s slightly more time-consuming. Before we committed to running the Great North Run as a three-legged race, we did a timed 5km to see if running the whole thing would be possible. With a few falls and funny looks off passer-bys, we ran it in about 36 minutes. So hopefully, a 21km (half marathon) run should be possible without taking all day and night.

We have been experimenting with different ways to attach our legs together and which side works best for each of us to run on. At the moment, we have been training with our ankles tied quite close together with a belt and a football sock for some padding. It is hard but possible. When looking up other three-legged long distance runs we also saw they were tied a few inches apart, which seems a lot more comfortable!”

Can you help Jamie and Dom on their three legged challenge?  Here’s the link to their fundraising page https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser…/fundraiserPage…

If you would like to support our runners in this year’s Great North Run, either by way of donation or to cheer them along and greet them at the finish line, then please get in touch with Nikki McCann at nikkimccann@actionfoundation.org.uk You can also donate by going directly to our Virgin Money giving account http://bit.ly/2sUbBWRGNR2018

Lord Mayor of Newcastle visits Action Foundation

Lord Mayor of Newcastle visits Action Foundation

In celebration of Refugee Week, we welcomed the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor David Down and The Lady Mayoress to Action Foundation.

As one of the Mayor’s two chosen charities for the year the timing couldn’t have been better. They joined an Action Language class and helped with a geography quiz on capital cities around the world before joining our Housing team to find out about our Hosting and Letting projects. We look forward very much to working together with The Lord Mayor over his coming year in office for the benefit of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in our community.